Their Internet Habits Have Shifted
For those with Internet-savvy parents, be on the lookout for any strange or unusual new online habits, as this could signal dementia or another similar illness. People who are cognitively declining are at a real risk of ordering things they dont need, taking on debt, and facing identity theft, Gwyther says. Even if they had been on the Internet and had been perfectly fine before, families need to be looking out for that. You should also take a look at their Facebook or other social media accounts from time to time to make sure they arent accidentally befriending people who could be potentially dangerous. Gwyther explains that this is a common issue for people with cognitive disorders, as its hard for them to tell whos a friend and whos a foe.
Keep In Touch With Your Local Community
If you dont have family or friends who can help you, you may want to speak to other people in your community. They may be able to help with things like lifts into town, shopping, gardening or simply calling in or phoning to see how you are. These people could be:
- people from a place of worship
- your pharmacist
- your landlord.
You Can Be Alone Without Being Lonely
Being alone isnât necessarily the same as being lonely. Being alone simply means that you donât have anyone else in your space, and you may be OK with that. Being lonely is an entirely different matter and stems from an emotional state of feeling isolated. You may crave human company, but for whatever reason it does not happen, and you are left with an empty feeling and longing for companionship.
If you are living alone and experiencing feelings of loneliness, there are ways to change it. Loneliness can cause certain health conditions if something isnât done to address it.
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Changes In Everyday Functioning
The most common tell-tale signs of dementia include drastic changes in everyday functioning. Communication in those at risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia can reveal a lot about the progression of the disease. For instance, conversations become short or non-existent. You or friends begin receiving calls at odd hours. You notice they find it difficult to search for the right words or use familiar words repeatedly or begin using gestures rather than verbal expression.
Consider Telling Others About Your Diagnosis
Consider telling people about your diagnosis, so they can offer you support if you need it. When people understand, they will be able to offer you help and make sure it is tailored to your needs.
If you dont feel comfortable telling people about your diagnosis, you could just say that you need a bit of help with some things from time to time.
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How Long Do People Have Dementia Before They Need Memory Care
Usually, its better to place your loved one in care as soon as they begin experiencing the symptoms listed above. They will often be more open to engaging the staff and in programs during this stage.
A few examples of services offered by memory care programs include the following:
- Specialty dining programs using techniques such as aromatherapy and adaptive utensils to prevent weight loss
- Individualized, intentional programming that helps decrease agitation and promotes feelings of productiveness
- Spacious and familiar-feeling secure environments to prevent wandering and elopement
- Specialized caregivers who receive additional training to learn how to communicate with and support the needs of people with dementia
- Wellness activities designed around physical losses to help seniors retain and regain life skills
The decision to place a loved one in memory care can be difficult, but it is an important part of caring for a loved one living with dementia.
What Do You Do When You Cant Take Care Of Your Elderly Parents
If you cannot convince your aging parent to move into a retirement community or assisted living or other type of senior housing, you will then need to look for help from your whole family or for services that can help them in their own home.
You may not be aware of the many programs available for the elderly and their caregivers, but they are out there.
Heres a list of resources you can reach out to for help and/or information.
According to a survey from the AARP, approximately 90% of seniors intend to stay in their current homes for the next five to ten years. Of those that plan on staying in their homes, 85% believe they could do so without making significant modifications to their home. At the same time, many of the survey respondents reported that it was becoming increasingly more difficult to live independently. In fact, only 43% of respondents over 70 found it very easy to live independently. Thus, despite the challenges that come with living alone, many seniors still want to live in their homes.
- Medicaid will cover non-emergency medical transportation
- Medicare will cover emergency visits that require 911
- For all other transportation needs Uber and Lyft have been working well
- There are 3rd party programs like GoGoGrandparent program and GreatCall that are specifically designed for caregivers and seniors.
Can My Loved One With Dementia Live Alone
Estimates indicate that approximately one third of people with dementia and 1 in 7 of those with Alzheimers disease lives alone. A diagnosis of dementia does not automatically mean a person cannot safely live independently. Some people may be able to live on their own for some time after the initial diagnosis. Others may be at too much risk to continue living alone.
It is common for people living with dementia to go through a series of stages from complete independence to living with someone or needing a long-term care placement over the course of disease progression . When a person who has lived alone eventually needs to consider other options, the move to live with someone can be difficult for all those involved. Some people with dementia may try to hide or compensate for the problems they are experiencing. Others with dementia do not recognize that they have challenges or blame family members .
If you are a family member or caregiver of a person with dementia, it can be difficult to decide whether a person who is living alone is actually in need of help. When assessing the situation and gathering information to share with other family members, asking yourself some of the following questions below may be a good place to start.
Changing Habits or Personality Traits
Phone Call Behavior
Email or Written Correspondence
Meals and Medication
Other Warning Signs
Signs An Elderly Person Shouldn’t Be Living Alone
Most families eventually have to deal with a complicated and heart-wrenching question: How do I know when an aging relative needs more help than the family can provide? On the one hand, there are numerous 90-year-olds living completely independent lives on the other hand, there are lots of people in their 70s and even 60s who find they need more help ifrom day to day.
This decision causes families grief. No adult son or daughter wants to admit that a parent — who provided life, nurturing and help to the child for so many years — is now in need of care that simply can’t be provided in return.
Does it make sense to drive back and forth between homes several times daily to make sure your loved one is eating enough, when a care facility would be able to feed him or her on time, every time, every day? Can you afford to take time off your job to provide the level of care that is needed? How much time, given that the situation likely won’t improve? Are you even able to provide the skilled level of care that is required?
Maybe your loved one is still mostly independent, but is showing worrying signs such as forgetfulness or confusion. Are there care options available for those who don’t need constant attention?
We’ll answer these questions throughout this article — and learn five signs that your loved one may need the services provided by an assisted-living facility or nursing home
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Home Care Vs Senior Living
Luckily today, seniors have many continuums of care and living arrangements available.
For example, at-home care allows the senior to live independently at their own home while still helping with items such as household chores, personal care, transportation, cooking, and a variety of therapies. These services can be provided on an hourly, 24/7 live-in, or an as-needed basis.
Senior living is another viable option for many people and their families which may offer a higher level of care and more robust social setting.
Todays senior living communities are full of vibrant seniors, five-star amenities, delicious food, and daily activities that keep their brains sharp and creativity sharper. Senior living communities arent where aging individuals go to start the end theyre actually designed to help them start a new beginning in a variety of ways:
In comparing the two options , it all depends on the needs of the individual.
When talking about expenses, in particular, a general rule of thumb is that if paid home care is required for more than 40 hours a week, then senior living may be more cost-effective.
Furthermore, when you add up all of the costs of living at home with the high cost of at-home care , you may find senior living to actually be the more affordable option.
Many family caregivers are surprised to learn that not only does their parents quality of life improve in a senior living community, but also their own life situations can positively change from the move.
Reasons More Seniors Are Aging Alone
Elderly isolation remains a struggle, even without pandemic-related social distancing. As far back as the 1950s, psychiatrist Frieda Fromm-Reichmann raised awareness about the dangers of loneliness, which she defined as the difference between someones preferred and actual social relations.
For many seniors, that gap has been caused by situations that will persist once the pandemic subsides.
Even before the pandemic, I was living alone, and I did feel lonely sometimes because I was very social when I was younger, Anne said. Since my husband passed in 2014, it just hasnt been the same.
Here are seven contributing factors to senior isolation.
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Their Home Is Messy And Unclean
Daily chores are not as easy to manage when you get older. If you see that your senior loved one is having trouble performing a daily task, it may be time for a discussion on how to help them.Pushing around a vacuum cleaner can become very labor intensive .
Its also much more difficult to reach high and low places so dusting becomes much harder. These little signs of disarray are not what you should worry about.
Instead, what should send out an alert to family members is if you see stacks of dirty dishes in the sink, dirty clothing piled on the washer or the floor, bugs in the pantry or worse, the refrigerator.
When I worked an Occupational Therapist, I once did a home assessment for a woman who was living alone. She was scheduled to go home within a week but we had to make sure that her home was safe and that she was going to be safe in it before we discharged her.
When we first arrived, everything seemed fine. She had been gone for 4 weeks so we expected to see some dusty furniture, etc. When I asked her to show me how she would prepare a meal, she opened the refrigerator and to my horror it was filled with roaches! But, that wasnt the worst part. She just reached into the fridge, took out some bread and some cheese and began to make a sandwich!
Needless to say, we had to advise her family of the potential dangers of her situation and that it was not a good idea that she continue to live alone.
When A Parent Shouldnt Live Alone
It happens all the time, all of us can look back on certain events and see the signs. But, while were living through an event, it seems that the signs are not as clear to us.
Rebecca and her husband live 500 miles away from her 82-year-old mother, who suffers from arthritis and is exhibiting the early signs of Alzheimers disease. Rebecca worries about her mothers safety, but every time she shares her concerns, the answer is always the same: Everything is fine. Stop worrying about me.
Theres a reason why medical personnel and physicians are not technically allowed to treat relatives and friends. Its because they are too closely involved emotionally and historically with that person.
Those factors cloud their judgment and reasoning. Its only human nature.
So, for the sake of your aging parent, I ask you put together a family meeting to discuss the issues and/or problems your parent may be having which would indicate that they should no longer be living alone.
Then ask a third party to help you look at the situation through their unbiased eyes.
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Signs Of Dementia In An Older Adult And The Dangers Associated With Them
Some of the signs of dementia include:
- Misplaced items. Are there lightbulbs in the fridge? Are clothes being folded and then stacked in the living room? Sure, maybe it is a change of pace, but odd little changes are a sign of a mind that has trouble focusing and following through on tasks.
- Forgetfulness. We all have trouble remembering things, but persistent forgetfulness about short and long-term events is a worrying sign.
- Confusion. Are you having to explain several times the plan for an outing or event and find that your aging loved one cant follow the thread? For example, youre going out lunch, youre leaving at 11:30, taking Marys car, etc. When the mind slowly starts to fog, small details go away, and the result is overall confusion.
- Lack of cleanliness. No one should have to have an immaculate house at all times, but signs of damage, neglect, and general unkemptness can be a sign of someone who forgets to do basic chores.
- Worsening person hygiene. The same as with the home, only for the person. This is an even more serious sign, as personal hygiene is, for most people, a routine.
So what to do when you notice this? How do you overcome these dangers? You get information, and you take action.
If Your Elderly Parents Are Missing Payments And Appointments
Take the time to check the mail your parent is getting.
Late and Final notices are a strong sign that they are not attending to their bills as they should. Dont wait for the gas, water or electricity to be shut off!
And Im not saying that you necessarily need to take over paying the bills for your parent. That decision depends on how much cognitive impairment is evident in your mother or father.
At the very least, speak with him or her about helping them with the task, working together.
You can even schedule it so that, for example, you could both work on bills and mail every Monday. Put it on the calendar as a reminder.
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Maintaining Your Driving Ability
The good news is that, while your symptoms are mild, you can take steps to help you drive safely and independently for as long as possible:
- Settle into a consistent routine. Stick to the same route when you drive from place to place. Figure out when you most need to drive, and follow that plan. For example, do you drive to medical appointments, to shop, to meet with friends? Are there times when someone else can drive?
- Drive with someone that can assess your driving abilities on an ongoing basis. They can notice if there are any changes in your driving abilities and can spot risky behaviours that you may not be aware of.
- Use technology to support your capacity to drive. If you’re driving by yourself, use assistive technologies such as a GPS to help you.
- Above all, living well with dementia has been shown to slow the progression of dementia. Challenging your brain, following a good diet and staying physically and socially active will all help you stay in the early stage of dementia for as long as possible.
Boredom And Dementia Patients
Dementia dramatically affects a persons entire being, and its progression is impossible to stop. A person living with one of the various diseases that cause dementia may experience symptoms from memory loss to speech problems and vision decline, but the greatest complaints are boredom and loneliness.
Why do boredom and loneliness top the list? In most cases, caregivers are at a loss of how to provide dementia-related care. Dementia symptoms have changed the relationship between caregiver and loved one, and its common to feel at a loss of what to do. When you can no longer have a conversation with Mom like you used to, or Dads agitation has made visits with him feel negative, you might start to pull away. You visit the senior home less frequently, or your interactions with your loved start to become limited to basic personal care. And thats the problem. Mom or Dad is still here. They still need love, engagement, and attention. Its up to you to adjust your methods to connect with them in a new way. The care partner role demands lots of creativity.
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